Tree silhouettes at sunrise over a pink hued sky.
Tree silhouettes at sunrise over a pink hued sky.
Halifax police issued 12 tickets under the Health Protection Act Tuesday night following a complaint in the city's south end of a group violating the COVID-19 gathering limit.According to a news release from Halifax Regional Police, officers found the group around 10:30 p.m. on a dock on the Northwest Arm.The address given by police, 6404 Oakland Rd., is a small municipal park with stairs that lead down to the dock.There were between 12 and 15 people "in very close proximity to one another," violating the 5-person gathering limit issued by the province last week, police said.Twelve people from the group now face a $1,000 fine, each, according to Staff Sgt. Mo Chediac.Prior to last week's tightening of COVID-19 restrictions, only one $1,000 ticket could be issued to large groups, which is what happened when police broke up a party of about 60 people on Nov. 20.Just a few days after that incident, Premier Stephen McNeil said he wanted stronger enforcement against illegal gatherings, "including a $1,000 fine for every person who walks through the door."Chediac said police are following that directive and taking seriously any public complaints of Health Protection Act violations. He encouraged people to report violations to police."It's something where [the premier and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang] were working on an education piece, but want more enforcement now," Chediac told CBC News."Because of course there's been quite a bit of messaging completed through the province as well as the police, so now we're taking more of an enforcement approach with it."MORE TOP STORIES
Canada is joining 13 other countries in a non-binding pledge to sustainably manage 100 per cent of its oceans by 2025, continuing the Trudeau government's international declarations on the environment.The undertaking commits — or, in some cases, recommits — Canada to a variety of measures, including protecting 30 per cent of marine waters by 2030, rebuilding fish stocks, reducing plastic in the ocean and creating a sustainability plan."Having the world's longest coastline, Canada recognizes that our economy and our well-being are deeply connected with the health of our oceans, and that we have a responsibility to protect them," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement accompanying the document."That is why we are committed to working with our international Ocean Panel leaders, and to developing a comprehensive blue economy strategy. We are also calling on more world leaders and other partners to join us in turning our goals into reality."Other countries supporting the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy include Norway, Australia, Japan, Ghana, Indonesia and Chile."Historically, the ocean agenda has never been focused and integrated on an international basis, and we're at the point, I think, in history where everybody recognizes the health of the ocean should be a concern," said Jean-Guy Forgeron, senior assistant deputy minister of strategic policy at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.Canada has made these promises beforeThe commitment to conserve 30 per cent of Canadian oceans by 2030 was announced in July when Canada joined the Global Ocean Alliance, led by the United Kingdom.Ottawa has so far reached 14 per cent of the target by creating marine protected areas and marine refuges.The process has met opposition from the fishing industry and some provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, which questioned the economic impact of closing areas to extraction activities."This is not easy," said Forgeron. "There is no low-hanging fruit in creating protected ocean space. And it's a very aggressive agenda."Fisheries and Oceans Canada is expected to introduce draft regulations this month to the Fisheries Act that will spell out how it intends to rebuild fish stocks that are being harmed by over-fishing.The federal government is also promising a discussion paper in the new year on "boat-to-plate traceability" to assure consumers they are getting what they are paying for and to help stamp out illegal fishing and human rights issues on board vessels elsewhere."I think we'll see in the next months, not years, whether this government is moving on this new strategy that they've signed on to," said Josh Laughren, executive director of the environmental group Oceana Canada."This isn't the first time governments have signed on to non-binding, long-term commitments, and people tend to get wary of more of those."Anya Waite of the Ocean Frontier Institute based at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said oceans are too important to the planet's future not to act to protect them."The ocean controls our climate, carries 100 times the heat of the atmosphere and 50 times the carbon," she said. "If we don't have the oceans front and centre, we can't understand climate change and we need development of the blue economy to include sustainability."A contrary view to a key commitmentWhile the steps are being welcomed by the environmental movement, there remains skepticism about the effectiveness of setting aside 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030 — known as 30 by 30.It has been proposed in the United States Congress and is under consideration by the incoming Biden administration.Ray Hilborn, from the University of Washington's school of aquatic and fisheries sciences, said it is misguided."All the 30 by 30 will do is move the fishing effort from one place to another," Hilborn told CBC News. "So if fishing effort is causing the problem, you're not solving it; you're simply moving the problem from one place to the other."He said countries like Canada and the United States have fishery regimes that can better protect species with specific measures like gear changes.'A lot left to do'Hilborn acknowledged some areas need to close, although not permanently. He cited the North Atlantic right whale, which moved away from critical habitat zones off southern Nova Scotia and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence in search of prey."If climate change is going to change where the problems are, we need dynamic management," he said.Laughren supports the measures coming from the High Level Panel and is giving the Trudeau government the benefit of the doubt."I think the government deserves some credit for making oceans and oceans conservation a priority over the last few years, with a lot left to do," he said.MORE TOP STORIES
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony to April 25, 2021, so that theaters would be open again in the spring, which will allow more films to compete in the awards, the report said. "The Oscars in-person telecast will happen," Variety https://variety.com/2020/film/news/oscars-in-person-show-will-happen-2021-1234843255 reported on Tuesday, citing a representative from the Academy. The Academy Awards are traditionally held at the 3,400-seater Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.
It only took two days after its launch for the chess drama The Queen's Gambit to make it into Netflix's top 10 most-viewed series — and it hasn't budged since.It has since become the streaming giant's biggest scripted limited series to date, but the show's popularity isn't confined to the screen. Chess enthusiasts believe it's bringing more people to the game and making it more accessible to a group that, historically, has been largely shut out of it — women."After the series came out on Netflix, you could feel the buzz around the club," said Steve Sklenka, president of the Calgary Chess Club. Though COVID-19 restrictions have forced the club's physical location to temporarily close, that hasn't stopped the inquiries. "We have [people] buying memberships online even though we're closed."According to Sklenka, the interest is the most he's seen since 1972, when American chess champion Bobby Fischer played Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky in a match that became a worldwide sensation. Now, Sklenka is fielding daily calls and emails from people asking when the club will reopen. Sklenka isn't the only one to notice a resurgence in interest. According to marketing firm NPD Group, U.S. sales of chess sets rose by 87 per cent in the weeks following the show's debut in late October, while chess book sales jumped more than 600 per cent. An executive at a major U.S. games company told NPR their sales jumped 1,000 per cent as fans around the world connected with the series."It is an international show with an international cast that is dealing with one of the more universal, quote unquote, sports or pastimes or hobbies," said Daniel Feinberg, a TV critic for Hollywood Reporter.WATCH | 'I've made older boys cry' — chess stars on the world of The Queen's Gambit:While chess is played around the world, Feinberg argued other potential pastimes — like football, baseball or hockey — wouldn't connect with international audiences quite as successfully. "Chess really doesn't know any boundaries, so everybody gets to feel some level of connection and they get to understand it on whatever level they do." Sklenka said the show has had another benefit as well."It's a good thing for chess andit's a good thing for female players," Sklenka said, "because it adds a lot of exposure that just wasn't there before." Show's male players depicted as 'too nice'The Queen's Gambit follows the life of orphan and chess prodigy Beth Harmon (portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy) as she rises to become the greatest player in the world. In reality, there has never been a female chess world champion, although many have played at an extremely high level.That includes Judit Polgár, a Hungarian player and the sole woman to be ranked among the top 10 players in the world. In 2005, Polgár became the first woman to play for the world championship title. After watching Harmon's journey in The Queen's Gambit, Polgár had one reaction to the depiction of the male players."They were too nice to her," she told the New York Times.Polgár's experience echoes that of Canadian chess champion Qiyu Zhou. The 20-year-old University of Toronto economics and statistics major has been playing chess since she was four and currently holds the title of Woman Grandmaster. Zhou says she has faced male players who don't take her seriously. "I've made older boys cry because I beat them ... and they're like, 'How did I lose to, like, a six-year-old or a five-year-old?'"Growing up in Finland, Zhou played in "open" sections in tournaments, for all genders, as there simply weren't other girls to compete against. Though she was successful — becoming the youngest-ever winner at the Finnish National Chess Championship, at age five — Zhou said the isolation can push younger players away."If I was a really young girl playing chess but there is nobody around me to be friends with me, would I really want to keep playing the game? Not necessarily," she said. "We're all social people, I believe, especially when we're younger — making friends is a really key part."Earlier this year, Zhou signed with the U.S.-based esports organization Counter Logic Gaming after her popularity as a chess streamer grew on the video game streaming platform Twitch.Zhou said she continues to face sexism in the chess world. She frequently gets online comments about how she dresses or acts — comments she said would not be levelled at male counterparts. WATCH | The Queen's Gambit trailer:"I guess people just have an opinion of what a female chess player should be like, and they really want to push that on girls," Zhou said.'Most of the top streamers are male'Andrea Botez, another Canadian chess streamer, said that even now, gender is often an "obstacle" for women. "Most of the top streamers are male, and if there are females ... there's always people saying you only get attention because you're attractive, not because you're good at the game," Botez said.Like Polgár, Botez believes The Queen's Gambit "toned down" the sexism in the chess world, but said it has also strengthened the sport. Its popularity on Netflix and social media isn't just bringing more people to chess, she said — it's bringing younger people. "The most important audience is the teen audience," Botez said. "They're watching Netflix. On social media, it's very popular on TikTok and stuff. And I think that's very important for the growth [of] chess."For Zhou, the question of why The Queen's Gambit has drawn so much attention has an easy answer. "There's always been an intrigue about chess… but it always takes a little bit of pop culture and mainstream media to push it to that point where everybody is like, 'We can actually play this game, and have a lot of fun playing it,'" she said."I'm not fully surprised, but I've always thought that chess is, you know, an art, a science and a sport, all in one."
While 80-year-old Ron Rudoski and his 74-year-old wife Sandra have fans of all ages, their polkas, waltzes, and country tunes are particularly popular with an older crowd.Last year, the Rudoskis played nearly 60 shows. The couple have been playing together for more than 30 years and travelled all over southern Saskatchewan sharing their blend of accordion/guitar medleys guaranteed to keep your toes tapping. The couple would frequently play seniors centres and casino shows, and they developed a following of dedicated dancers. "I remember playing six nights in seven days and 75 per cent of the people were the same people every night, and most of these people are seniors," said Ron. Like so many things in the world, those dances came to a screeching halt when the pandemic hit in March. But unlike many musicians who turned to online shows or small, backyard concerts, their fans make up a segment of the population considered at higher risk for COVID-19. "It really wasn't the way we wanted to retire. We wanted to have a big gathering, you know, kind of a goodbye thing, and this just ended out of nowhere," said Sandra. > Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone. \- Sandra Rudoski Their dancers have become dear friends over the years. Sandra said she checks in with them by phone and she worries about what this isolation is doing to these once very active people. "It's got to be hard on a lot of them sitting at home. It's physical, it keeps you fit. Sometimes Ron plays his accordion and I just dance around the island for something to do. It makes me happy, music makes you happy, you know."Remembering happier timesRon's love of the accordion started when he was just a boy. He's been playing accordion for 66 years and he learned young that he liked performing in front of a crowd.His dad played fiddle in a band and used to tease him when his musical career started picking up steam. Back in the '60s, his band would charge $125 dollars for a dance. "Dad used to play for two dollars a night and he said he had to pay for lunch out of that as well," Ron said with a laugh. In the '80s, Ron was looking for a guitar player and singer for his band. He hired Sandra and ended up falling in love with more than just her voice. Sandra smiles when she talks about their courtship. "My father was German and he loved accordion music, and when I met Ron, to my dad's delight, every time we got together it was play accordion, play accordion."They started out playing in bars, but when Ron brought out his accordion, opportunities opened up. They were soon in high demand for anniversaries, weddings and cabarets.Melville and area was a hotspot for polka music, producing some of the best accordion players in Western Canada. The many German, Ukrainian, Slovenian, Polish, and Czechoslovakian descendents in the area made sure that their shows were always well attended, especially the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Ron is one of the few people left on the prairies who can repair accordions, so people from all over Canada send him their instruments. He has thousands of parts for accordions that he's collected in the more than 50 years of repairing the instruments.Ron says he'd like to pass on this skill and all his equipment to someone younger, so right now he is on the hunt for a young accordion player who wants to learn the craft. Lack of inspiration in isolationNot knowing when or if ever they'll be able to play in public again has been hard on the couple. Ron is also the treasurer of the local seniors hall and he wonders when they eventually do open again, if people will come back to the dances. "Some of them we have lost already, and it's really sad to think that maybe when we go back to playing, a lot of them will be gone," adds Sandra. The couple can play three dances without ever repeating a song, but they haven't learned anything since the pandemic started. "I have hardly touched my guitar since we quit playing," Sandra said. "I guess there's no incentive, but I guess I shouldn't think that way. I guess you should hope that there is hope."That hope includes looking forward to a day when they can end their long career on their own terms, surrounded safely by the people whose friendships have been forged over decades of performing. To hear the audio as it appeared on CBC's Morning Edition click here:CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
Christmas tree grower Milt Agate has worked in the Christmas tree business since 1990, but said this year will be his last.His 34-acre farm in Ilderton, about 30 minutes northwest of London, Ont., has been a staple for Christmas tree shoppers. For decades, families have been visiting to pick out their tree and enjoy a warm cup of hot cider and cookies.For the past several years, he has seen a decline in sales. To his surprise, demand was high this year — which caused the sales to skyrocket."It's been such a weird year, people are just itching to decorate," Agate said. "Families want to get together and this is what is bringing them together."Now, people are also expecting a lot more from "just a traditional Christmas tree farm", he said."They want the wagon rides, they want the petting zoo, the Christmas knickknacks."Agate said he simply cannot afford that, considering the amount of land, manpower and money he would need to operate. It's pushing him to leave the market."When you start adding the experience part of it, you've got to start looking at manpower," he said. "Which I don't have."Trees at the farm are marked down and selling for $35 apiece, as he is looking to close for good and needs everything to go. With the growing demand, Agate said he should have considered marking them up instead.The past weekend was a busy one, and most of the supply is gone."A lot of people are wanting to come out and get their trees before December," he said.Agate says he has even been receiving calls from people in Toronto wanting to make the drive down to pick up a tree but has to turn them away as he halted wagon rides and other activities due to COVID-19. This year, no wagon rides, hot cider or cookies are offered because of that reason.As a farmer, Agate said one of the biggest issues for him is mother nature.In the early 2000s the farm experienced two years of drought, which made Agate lose 25 per cent of his crop, he said.Another issue is the time it takes to grow the trees.Agate said it can take up to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree in "ideal conditions", making it impossible for farmers to increase their supply with this sudden surge that is largely being driven by the pandemic.Less travel, more customers"People are wanting to get out, wanting to get trees. They're staying home for Christmas as opposed to traveling — and so we are seeing the numbers on an increase," said Shirley Brennan, executive director of the Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario.Farms across the province have experienced tree shortages for the past couple of years, she said, but demand this year has increased substantially.Brennan told CBC London that COVID-19 increased the demand for trees in particular this season because of the isolation many have felt this year and a desire to get into the holiday spirit.She said the association has seen a 25 per cent increase in sales across the board.The tree with the highest demand is the fraser fir which Brennan says "everyone goes for" and is in short supply.> It's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience. \- Shirley Brennan, Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario executive directorShe said younger generation couples in particular who have recently bought their homes are embracing this tradition as a way of bringing together their families during a trying time."This is just one more thing that adds to the family dynamics. Having that real Christmas tree and having that experience, people are really, really embracing that this year," Brennan said.However, Brennan said the Christmas tree industry is steadily increasing each year."Our industry across Canada went from a $53 million industry to a $100 million industry since 2015, so it has been steadily increasing over the years," Brennan said. "And because it takes 10 years to grow a tree, we just can't put more trees in the ground for next year and so it was just a forecast that we couldn't even speculate was going to happen."She said it's "alarming" that a number of farms have already sold out of the trees they had available for this year."I have spoken to farm owners who have said it has been a record-breaking year," she said. "But it's not even about the size or the species this year, [people] just want the experience."
It was inevitable that the federal government's handling of COVID-19 vaccines would become political. Politics has shaped public perceptions of the pandemic's severity since it began.But now the vaccines themselves are becoming politically polarized, with divisions emerging between those who want them and those who don't.Since the spring, polls have shown consistently that one of the major factors associated with how Canadians view the pandemic is how they vote. Supporters of the Liberals and New Democrats have been more likely to report concerns about the public health risks of COVID-19, while Conservative voters have been more likely to eschew precautions and oppose restrictions.Polling conducted by a number of firms in November — as cases across the country continued to rise — still showed signs of this split between left and right in Canada.The latest survey by Léger for the Association of Canadian Studies suggests that only 12 per cent of Liberal voters want to ease pandemic restrictions as soon as possible — even if another wave is possible early in the new year — while 31 per cent of Conservative voters say they want governments to ease up.The poll also found that 52 per cent of Conservative voters are very or somewhat afraid of contracting COVID-19, compared to 66 per cent of New Democratic voters and 74 per cent of Liberal supporters.A recent poll by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) found that between 87 and 89 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Liberals, NDP or Bloc Québécois in last year's election report regularly wearing masks indoors; 71 per cent of Canadians who voted for the Conservatives reported doing the same.WATCH | Erin O'Toole vs. Trudeau on vaccine planAnd Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters were about twice as likely as Conservative supporters to list COVID-19 as one of their top three issues of concern.When asked how governments should prioritize their responses to the pandemic, Conservatives were about twice as likely as Liberals to tell a recent survey for Abacus Data that there has been "too little emphasis on limiting the impact on jobs, income and the economy" — and more than three times as likely to say there has been "too much emphasis on limiting the health risk."We've seen proof of these political attitudes in how Canadians voted in October's provincial elections in Saskatchewan and British Columbia. The New Democrats (the main left-of-centre party in both provinces) did significantly better among voters who cast ballots by mail — and avoided crowds by doing so — than among those who voted in person. Right-of-centre parties in both provinces did much better in the in-person voting.The polarization of immunizationSince attention has turned to vaccines, the Conservatives in Ottawa have focused their attacks on the federal government's plan to acquire and distribute the vaccines in this country. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has claimed that Canada will be "near the back of the line," though vaccines are expected to start arriving in early 2021.But this week's Léger poll suggests a minority of Canadians share O'Toole's concern. While the poll suggests 37 per cent of Canadians are worried Canada might not get the vaccine at the same time as the United States and the United Kingdom — where the vaccines are produced — 48 per cent said they are "not that concerned" and feel "a few months won't make much of a difference."It's hard not to see partisanship behind some of this, as the Léger poll suggests Conservative voters are the ones most likely to be concerned about delays — and the ones least likely to say they would take the first vaccine made available to the public.This is in part because many Canadians harbour doubts about potential COVID-19 vaccines.A recent Ipsos/Global News poll suggested that 71 per cent of Canadians feel nervous about a vaccine being created and approved so quickly. A similar share of those surveyed said they are concerned about long-term side-effects.On average, polls conducted by Abacus, ARI and Léger suggest only 34 per cent of Canadians would get immunized as soon as possible, while 41 per cent said they would wait a little before getting the needle. Between 11 and 15 per cent of those polled said they would not get vaccinated at all.Conservatives more likely to wait or avoid vaccinationThere is certainly a level of distrust among Conservative voters specific to the Trudeau government. According to Léger, about half of Conservative voters believe that the current federal government is withholding information about vaccines. Only 15 per cent of Liberal voters feel the same way.This trust (or lack of it) could have an impact on Canadians' willingness to get vaccinated. In the ARI, Abacus and Léger surveys, an average of just 27 per cent of Conservative voters said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to 43 per cent of Liberals and 39 per cent of New Democrats.WATCH | Procurement minister says government is 'putting the puzzle' together for vaccine distributionAn average of 84 per cent of Liberal voters and 79 per cent of New Democrats said they would get vaccinated either right away or eventually, compared to 69 per cent of Conservatives. The number who said they won't get vaccinated averaged just five per cent of the sample among Liberal supporters and nine per cent among New Democrats, but rises to 19 per cent among Conservative voters.The potential public health risk of this polarization could be mitigated if the federal government revealed a detailed plan for the acquisition and distribution of vaccines. Statements of support for such a plan from conservative premiers — some of whom have echoed O'Toole's attacks recently — also could help to reduce this partisan split before vaccine doses start arriving.Will that happen? The answer might depend on how much partisanship is running through Canadians' veins right now.
Several P.E.I. appliance stores are dealing with a shortage of products to sell because COVID-19 is affecting the manufacturers of fridges, stoves, washers and dryers.P.E.I. is adding 55 new front-line positions to schools across the province to support students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.A program where Islanders share their Christmas traditions with newcomers has moved online.The collapse of the Atlantic bubble has left some Nova Scotia university students in a tough spot ahead of their end-of-semester exams and holiday break.Wednesday night's Santa Claus tour in Charlottetown was postponed to Sunday. Holiday shoppers are receiving their own gift from the City of Charlottetown this December: free parking downtown. The lack of activity at Charlottetown Airport is "surreal," the CEO says.P.E.I. has seen a total of 72 cases, with no deaths and no hospitalizations.Seventeen new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Nova Scotia on Wednesday, bringing its number of active cases to 127.In New Brunswick, six new cases were reported, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 119.Also in the newsFurther resourcesMore from CBC P.E.I.
The City of Toronto's continued operation of homeless shelters with shared sleeping areas defies widespread acknowledgement that COVID-19 can effectively spread via airborne transmission, say health experts and advocates for people experiencing homelessness.There are concerns that shelter users sleeping in those environments face a heightened risk of transmitting or contracting the novel coronavirus."We should be deeply concerned that shelters are still being operated like this," said Zoe Dodd, who works with Toronto's homeless population through the Overdose Prevention Society.Aerosol transmission of COVID-19, in which the virus spreads through microscopic airborne particles, has been acknowledged as a threat by Toronto Public Health.The U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes in its guidelines that aerosols containing the virus can stay afloat for hours, in some cases leading to COVID-19 transmission even when people are more than two metres apart.Jeffrey Seigel, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto, called the prospect of aerosol COVID-19 transmission in homeless shelters "a critical issue" that the city should immediately address.He said similar congregate settings, such as the living quarters of farm workers and some long-term care facilities, indicate that aerosol transmission can be a dangerous driver of COVID-19 outbreaks."A substantial amount of transmission is happening in some spaces because of long range aerosol," Siegel told CBC Toronto.He identified three factors that can increase the risk of transmission when people gather indoors: crowding, the amount of time spent in a location, and ventilation.The environment in congregate homeless shelters, he said, "hits two, maybe three of the high-risk triggers for COVID-19 transmission."City says shelter precautions working well so farToronto has revamped its shelter system since the onset of the pandemic and now offers thousands of private rooms in hotels and motels. However, congregate spaces still make up a significant portion of the more than 6,000 beds offered by the city.As many as 2,874 spaces reserved for individual users are in congregate dorms, the city said, though it did not provide a specific figure.The city has introduced heightened physical distancing measures in those shelters, including a standard of two metres of lateral space between beds, among other precautionary measures.Mary-Anne Bedard, general manager of Toronto's Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, said those changes have contributed to the city's "relative success" at slowing the spread of the virus within its shelter system."While there is a certain amount of aerosol transmission … it is relatively limited," said Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa during a Monday news conference, before adding that close contact between people remains the primary source of transmission.But Siegel said people underestimate the risk of aerosol transmission in a shared, indoor environment. He said particles containing the virus have been demonstrated to travel more than 10 metres in some cases, and that dry winter air can help those particles travel more easily."I have to honestly say that, no, two metres is not enough. I often say that physical distancing indoors is fiction," he said.There have been 659 cases of COVID-19 among shelter users over the course of the pandemic, though it is unclear how many of those infections took place within shelters.Calls for more private rooms, or other mitigating solutionsSiegel said solutions such as increased ventilation, the use of portable air purifiers or germicidal ultraviolet lights could be introduced within shelters to mitigate the risk of transmission.He said those measures could be beneficial even after the COVID-19 pandemic, since infectious respiratory diseases are a long-standing issue within homeless shelters.Dodd and other homeless outreach workers are calling for a more substantial change, and say the city must open at least 2,000 new hotel rooms and stop operating shelters with shared sleeping areas and washrooms.Ginger Dean, an outreach worker with the Encampment Support Network, said a lack of private shelter spaces means people will choose to stay outdoors this winter rather than risk sleeping in a potentially unsafe shelter."Most people aren't interested," she said of the congregate dorms."It sounds harsh, but I feel like it just leaves residents feeling like the city doesn't really care about them."
Mike Goodyear knew what he was getting into when he first plugged his Tesla Model S into the charger at his Grand Falls-Windsor home three years ago.Newfoundland and Labrador was "the last holdout" for high-speed chargers, he told CBC News recently — but that was fine with him."I understood that going in, and that was part of the thing that I accepted," he said.Goodyear has no regrets — "it's been absolutely delightful" owning an electric car, he said, adding it costs him about $8 for the journey from his driveway to St. John's. That may be a bargain and emissions-free, but with only a few places to charge his car along that route, it requires a lot of patience: a charging stop in Clarenville takes upwards of three hours, Goodyear says.But the province's distinct status as the only one in Canada without public high-speed electric vehicle chargers is ending.Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is installing 14 Level 3 charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway from Port aux Basques to St. John's, plus one in Rocky Harbour. The chargers were tendered in October 2019, and as each charger is completed and tested, it will come online. NL Hydro expects all the work to be done by the end of this year."We want to be an enabler, to enable EV adoption in the province," said Jennifer Williams, the president of NL Hydro. Williams herself bought an electric vehicle this past summer."We believe the electric vehicles are coming, and we want to be ready for when those vehicle comes, so we're planning the system and getting ourselves ready," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.Williams estimates there are 200 electric vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 90 per cent of those are charged at home. But she said research suggests the lack of a charging network is a major impediment to increasing sales.Welcoming EVs from elsewhereEach station will have one Level 2 charger and one Level 3. The Level 3 chargers will cost $15 per hour, similar to chargers in the Maritimes, and can bill by the minute. Goodyear estimates they will shave hours off his St. John's trips, with a 20-minute stop enough of a boost to make it to the city. The network will make it far easier to sway people who have so far been on the fence about EVs, he said, particularly in rural areas that require longer trips."I know lots of people in the area who said, 'Oh, I wouldn't mind having an electric car, but I can't take it and drive to St. John's, I just don't have the range,'" he said.> Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road. \- Mike GoodyearGoodyear has offered up his own home charger, even listing it on public charging apps, to EV drivers across the province, as well as tourists in need. He predicts the new network will attract even more people in search of a scenic, all-electric drive, across the island after the COVID-19 pandemic."This is for a very large community, and it'll open the island up to a lot of visitors from the mainland, that's another big thing. When our pandemic has come to an end, you'll see a lot more people coming and staying," he said.Network set to expandThose tourists might soon get a chance to explore further afield than the TCH.On the heels of the current network construction, NL Hydro and Newfoundland Power is also looking to install 19 other charging stations in Newfoundland communities from Robinsons to Roddickton to Port Rexton, and three in Labrador, with applications currently being accepted for most of them."We're certainly keeping an eye on where else we can expand," said Williams.Those extra stations are expected to be built by late 2021, depending on funding; the $2.1-million cost of the existing charging network is being split by the provincial and federal governments, along with NL Hydro.For Goodyear and many other drivers, the more chargers, the better to reduce range anxiety: the very real response EV owners have trying to stretch their batteries to make it to the next charge.That's usually not an issue for Goodyear, who does most of his driving around town. He's always had an eye on the future — he named his Tesla Galileo, after a Star Trek spaceship — and as he as idles in the drive-thru and sees exhaust pouring out of every other car, he can't help think of those younger than him."You know, all the driving I've done — I've just tipped over 91,000 kilometres in my car — and the car itself hasn't produced any noxious gases toward my kids and grandkids," he said.Quebec announced last week it would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles in 2035. Goodyear would like to see more incentives in this province, as he's certain such change will soon come east."Right now you're hard-pressed to see an electric vehicle on the road. Twenty years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to find a gasoline-powered car on the road," he said.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
VAGANESH, Kosovo — Blagica Dicic, 92 and in failing health, is the only resident of a remote ethnic Serb minority village in the mountains of eastern Kosovo that's been abandoned by all its other inhabitants — including her own children. Djordje, the eldest son, has moved to Serbia's capital, Belgrade, and has no room for her. She can't remember when they last met. The younger son, Slobodan, lives in council-provided housing in nearby Kamenica town with his paralyzed wife. He rarely visits Dicic. But now, she feels she's got a new son. It's all the more remarkable because Fadil Rama, 54, comes from the other side of Kosovo's bitter ethnic divide, being a member of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority and a Muslim. “I have three sons, not two,” she says, lying in bed with two blankets to cover her in her tiny home in Vaganesh village, 45 kilometres (30 miles) east of the capital Pristina. “Fadil is the other one, bringing me food and taking care of me,” she says, leaning on one elbow as she caresses Rama, who lives less than a mile away in the ethnic Albanian village of Strezovce. Until early November, Dicic enjoyed good health but has now grown weaker and has difficulty standing. Still, she refuses to move out of her dilapidated two-storey home, surviving on a 60-euro ($71) monthly pension and no other official support. It's one of about 50 stone-and-wood-built houses that are slowly collapsing from neglect. Before the 1998-1999 war, more than 200 people lived there. Now they've gone, the last being Dicic' son Slobodan, when his wife fell ill three years ago. The war in the former Serbian province killed more than 10,000 — mostly ethnic Albanians — and ended after a NATO bombing campaign forced Serbia to withdraw its forces that were fighting an ethnic Albanian insurrection. The United Nations ran the territory for nine years before Kosovo in 2008 declared independence, which Serbia doesn’t recognize. Relations between Belgrade and Pristina remain tense. Rama, who owns a small grocery shop, has known Dicic since he was a boy and she always had a gift of sweets for Strezovce's children, even during the fighting. “She has been such a good woman before, during and after the war and has treated us like her children," he said. "When I learnt she remained alone I felt very sorry and thought of paying back her good deeds.” “Belgrade’s or even Pristina’s politics are of no interest to us because we have always supported each other,” Rama said. Since the coronavirus outbreak in March, Rama has visited her twice a week, bringing food. He cleans her room as best he can, lights the stove and settles down to cook for her. Rama said he saw nothing strange in helping an elderly, Orthodox Christian Serb. His fellow villagers agree. “Why? For assisting an old lady? A Serb? So what?” two men in Strezovce responded together. “Good for him.” Since the war, Vaganesh has had no drinking water. Dicic used to walk to Strezovce for water and essential supplies, but now she's too frail. Rama says local shepherds who heard he's helping her have followed his lead, visiting Dicic regularly "to see how she is and bring water or anything else.” He's given his word to Dicic' son, Slobodan, that he will “take care of her to the last minute of (her) life with all I have.” “I will never leave her on her own,” Rama said. ___ “One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thing Llazar Semini, The Associated Press
Ethiopia and the United Nations agreed on Wednesday to channel desperately-needed humanitarian aid to the northern region of Tigray, where a month of war is believed to have killed thousands of combatants and civilians. Federal troops have been battling the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and have captured the regional capital Mekelle, and the pact announced by U.N. officials will allow relief into government-controlled areas of Tigray. The Ethiopian conflict has forced more than 45,000 refugees to flee into Sudan, displaced many more within Tigray and worsened suffering in a region where 600,000 people already depended on food aid even before hostilities broke out on Nov.4.
It's not going to be a very merry Christmas this year for a handicraft workshop in Islamist-run Gaza that has been an unlikely source of gifts for the holiday. Coronavirus lockdowns have made it difficult for the Zeina Cooperative Association to export its hand-crafted Christmas gifts from Gaza to Europe and to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. About 24 Palestinian Muslim women, many of them veiled, work at the facility, making miniature Christmas trees, red-and-white puppets and Santa Claus marionettes.
In the last province not to have a school food program, Fredericton-based philanthropists Earl and Sandy Kitchen-Brewer are determined to make sure that no student goes hungry in the classroom. In just a few years, they've invested $723,000 in breakfast, lunch and snack programs that benefit more than 100 schools from the Acadian Peninsula to Saint John. "It's like a startup, and any type of startup needs funding," said Earl Brewer, co-founder of Plaza Retail REIT, a publicly traded company that lists more than a billion dollars in property assets. One of the things the Brewers like to see in a proposal is students helping other students. "They're practising empathy then," said Sandy Kitchen-Brewer. "They'll be the ones to carry on, in the future." Earlier this year, the Brewer Foundation green-lighted a pitch from the former culinary tech teacher at Southern Victoria High School in Perth-Andover.Older students helping the younger ones David Gallagher envisioned high school students making meals for the younger students at Andover Elementary and Perth-Andover Middle School, who would otherwise go without.The Brewer Foundation kicked in more than $30,000 to help pay for kitchen upgrades and glass-front display fridges so kids could see the milk and snacks inside and grab what they needed.WATCH | Student volunteers practise empathy by making sure other New Brunswick students don't go hungry during the pandemic."The information they wanted to know was so heartwarming," said Carol Godbout, the school community co-ordinator at Andover Elementary."It wasn't just here, fill out some forms. It was … 'Tell us about you. Tell us about your community. Tell us about your kids.' It was amazing."The very latest project to get funding approval is the new hub kitchen in Saint John where meals are made for five elementary schools in high-priority neighbourhoods.Erica Lane, the community engagement co-ordinator for the Anglophone South School District, said they just got word that they'll be getting $24,000 that will, among other things, help them find more space. 3,000 lunches prepared a dayThe Brewers say they're determined to keep developing partnerships with local food champions who have a lot of wisdom to offer because they're in the community. "We're probably making somewhere around 3,000 lunches a day and backpacks on the weekend," said Earl Brewer, totalling up the projects thus far. "So we're not quite halfway there. We estimate there's probably five to seven thousand kids in the province with no lunch and no access to food."The 'silent pandemic'Sandy Kitchen-Brewer said it was her daughter who first opened her eyes to what she calls the "silent pandemic" of kids not having enough to eat in New Brunswick. That was back in 2016 and within a year, the Brewer Foundation had donated a fully equipped kitchen that sits on the property of Leo Hayes High School, where volunteers still gather every weekday to prep more than 300 lunches for more than a dozen schools in the Fredericton area. Currently, COVID-19 has made it nearly impossible to meet with the kids who benefit from the programs. "That's our favourite part," said Sandy. "I think it makes us more aware."Tanya McBride, who runs the Feed the Lions program, said the kitchen continues to be a huge asset. "Having this building here on the Leo Hayes campus is amazing for us," she said. "It provides so many opportunities."McBride said she can't think of any other private citizens who have invested as much time, interest and money. "Not at this level. It's amazing what Earl and Sandy have done for the whole student hunger program in the province."
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The European Union criticised Britain's rapid approval of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, saying its own procedure was more thorough, after Britain became the first western country to endorse a COVID-19 shot. The move to grant emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been seen by many as a political coup for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has led his country out of the EU and faced criticism for his handling of the pandemic. In an unusually blunt statement, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is in charge of approving COVID-19 vaccines for the EU, said its longer approval procedure was more appropriate as it was based on more evidence and required more checks than the emergency procedure chosen by Britain.
Halifax has awarded a $288-million tender to Harbour City Resources to build and operate a new composting facility over 25 years.The new plant will replace the two aging systems operating in Burnside and Goodwood."It will be a state-of-the-art facility, with advanced screening and odour mitigation," said Andrew Philopoulus, HRM's manager of solid waste. "It will incorporate what's known as an airlock on all shipping doors."The new plant will be constructed at the current Goodwood site and will be able to deal with 60,000 tonnes of organic waste a year. Harbour City Resources has built and operated facilities in Calgary, Hamilton and Guelph, Ont.The new system will increase Halifax's annual composting costs by 17.5 per cent or $2.2 million.Coun. Tim Outhit said he hopes a brand new plant will mean grass clippings will be allowed back into the green carts."We will be able to look at some program changes knowing that they can be accommodated in the new facility," said Outhit. "That's encouraging."Coun. Patty Cuttell, who represents Goodwood, is worried about the increased truck traffic on Prospect Road."This is also the road to Peggys Cove," said Cuttell. "So could a road be put through the Ragged Lake industrial park?"Cuttell plans to ask for a staff report to consider community compensation for the Goodwood area since it will be the host for the municipality's composting operation for another 25 years.MORE TOP STORIES
Israel handed over a backlog of billions of shekels in tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, both sides said, in another sign of warming ties between the sides after the U.S. presidential election victory of Joe Biden. The taxes, managed by Israel under interim peace accords from the 1990s and usually handed over monthly, make up more than half of the budget of the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The 3.77 billion shekels ($1.14 billion) transfer is the first since June, when the Palestinians snubbed the handover due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans, currently suspended, to annex parts of the occupied West Bank.
Recent developments:What's the latest?Ottawa has 46 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, according to Ottawa Public Health's (OPH).Some key indicators suggest the city is moving further away from a potential change to yellow on the pandemic scale next week.Quebec is tightening health guidelines in stores and malls for the holiday shopping season, adding enforcement to rules many businesses already have in place.We've made a timeline of key local moments of the pandemic, which we'll keep updating.WATCH LIVE | Ontario's daily update at 1:30 p.m. ET:How many cases are there?As of Wednesday, 8,567 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 362 known active cases, 7,827 cases now considered resolved and 378 people who have died of COVID-19.Public health officials have reported more than 14,000 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 12,600 resolved cases.Ninety people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario, along with 81 in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.What can I do?Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with, or one other home if people live alone, to slow the spread of the coronavirus.Ontario says this will apply through December's holidays, with people who live away from home such as post-secondary students asked to reduce close contacts for 10 to 14 days before going back.Quebec has shared what it will take to have at most two small holiday gatherings this month, though that may change by the end of next week.Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout the Outaouais.Ontario says people shouldn't travel to a lower-level region from a higher one and some lower-level health units want residents to stay put to curb the spread.Ottawa is currently in the orange zone of Ontario's five-colour pandemic scale, which allows organized gatherings and restaurants, gyms and theatres to bring people inside.WATCH | Where researchers get wastewater for COVID-19 tests:Three other eastern Ontario health units are under yellow zone restrictions: * The Eastern Ontario Health Unit. * Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health. * Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.That means restaurant hours, table limits and rules around capacity fall somewhere between those in place in Ottawa and the rest of eastern Ontario, which is currently green, the lowest level.In Gatineau and the surrounding area, which is one of Quebec's red zones, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it's essential.There is no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.The rest of western Quebec is orange, which allows private gatherings of up to six people and organized ones up to 25 — more in seated venues.Its rules won't be loosened until mid-January at the earliest.What about schools?There have been about 200 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there's a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.Distancing and isolatingThe novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.People can be contagious without symptoms.This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don't live with — even with a mask on.WATCH | More research on COVID-19 'long-haulers':Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and should be worn outdoors when people can't distance from others. Three-layer non-medical masks with a filter are recommended.Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.If you have severe symptoms, call 911.Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.Where to get testedIn eastern Ontario:Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you've been told to by your health unit or the province.People without symptoms, but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.Ottawa has nine permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.Kingston's test site is at the Beechgrove Complex. The area's other site is in Napanee.People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test site visiting smaller communities.Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.In western Quebec:Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.First Nations, Inuit and Métis:Akwesasne had its most known COVID-19 cases of the pandemic in November. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its first confirmed case last month.People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.For more information
Alberta school boards say enrolment has taken a hit across the province this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they're asking the province not to allow this year's enrolment numbers dictate future funding. Bryan Szumlas, chief superintendent with the Calgary Catholic School District (CCSD), said prior to the pandemic the district projected a student population of 59,000 this school year."Then we came in much lower at 56,500 students," he said.Szumlas said the drop in student enrolment could have a significant financial impact if used under the new funding model — which was introduced in September, and is based on a three-year rolling average of student attendance. Lorrie Jess with the Alberta School Board Association (ASBA) said that model has school boards concerned. "Currently, many school divisions are reporting a reduction in the number of students attending in-school learning and an increase in schools structured at home, so online learning and parent-directed home education programs, and some families have chosen not to send their children to kindergarten," she said. Szumlas said that's something the CCSD can attest to. "A drop of approximately 2,000 students. When we dug a little deeper to try to figure out, you know, those 2,000 students and where they've gone — a big chunk of those students, roughly a thousand, have to do with kindergarten and pre-K."Jess said it's a trend being seen across the province. "[Education Minister Adriana] LaGrange has told us that she knows for a fact because they're counting the student numbers that they know that kindergarten student enrolment is way down across the province," she said."I think it's just parents being unsure with the pandemic and keeping their kids home for for another year, or holding them back, or teaching them at home."At a recent ASBA meeting, Jess said a motion was passed to lobby the province for a "hold harmless year" — which asks that Alberta Education not use the weighted moving average, but rather enrolment numbers from last year when considering funding. In an emailed statement to CBC News, Alberta Education said it is currently reviewing this request. "[We are] sensitive to the unique situation caused by the pandemic this year," wrote acting press secretary Nicole Sparrow. "That is why we gave school authorities more time to provide their enrolment data to the province, and we remain committed to ensuring schools are not penalized for enrolment that may have been affected by a pandemic that is completely out of their control."Sparrow said there will be a final decision made in next year's budget. "But in the meantime it should be noted that the benefit of the new funding model is it smoothes out sudden changes in student enrolment numbers," she said. "Both for increases and decreases in enrolment because it is based on three school years of data — not just one year as under the old model."Alberta Education did not provide a breakdown of enrolment numbers."Once we have this data early next month and it has gone through the usual verification process we will have a proper understanding of provincial enrolment data and the impact of the pandemic on student registrations," said Sparrow.